Art, Morality, Music, and Fallout Open Open Thread
We were arguing about art at work in the lab the other day. Not the aesthetic value argument (though that *IS* a good one) but about whether art could be moral in any meaninful sense. After a couple of jokes about the whole topic of what used to be called “stag films” we finally got onto the topic of whether a song, for example, could be immoral. The general tenor of the lab was centered on how art might be *OFFENSIVE* but that wouldn’t make it be *IMMORAL*. I argued in favor of the proposition and my first example was “Heroin” by the Velvet Underground and, sigh, nobody in the lab had ever heard of it. Dude, I told them. This song killed, like, hundreds of people. There are people who never would have tried H if it weren’t for this song!
My argument was that if art can inspire action, then the art is likely to share the moral content (if any) of the associated actions. If, for example, art inspires someone to learn to play music or to teach children to dance or save the world, then the art is moral. If, however, the art inspires people to shoot heroin? Probably immoral. (We failed to reach consensus.)
This is an open thread, by the way.
In any case, from there, I thought about Andy Warhol and Brian Eno, and then Roxy Music, and then (I have no idea how but that got me to) Tom Waits, and that brought me to Soulsavers which had the best album of 2007 It’s Not How Far You Fall It’s the Way You Land.
Revival is the song that you probably know already. (If you haven’t heard it, I think you’ll enjoy it as a lovely song.)
I find the video somewhat obnoxious… the whole “Elmer Gantry” thing is played out, if you ask me. When religious folks fail, it seems to me (as an atheist) to be about as surprising as when non-religious folks fail (which isn’t to say that there aren’t Bob Tiltons out there who deserve the full Sinclair treatment… but attacking, for example, Ted Haggard as if he were a Bob Tilton strikes me as misunderstanding the dynamic of human failure).
Where was I? Oh, yes. Soulsavers. The entire album is good. It’s got a cover of Neil Young’s, Through My Sails and a cover of the Stones’ No Expectations (which, by themselves, are reason enough to pick up the album) but my favorite song on the disc is Kingdoms of Rain.
It’s a really good album. My favorite review of it (which I can’t find online! Augh!) said something to the effect of: “This is deeply religious music. Not church music, but drinking whiskey and smoking and reading the Bible and crying religious music.” You should check it out.
(Additionally, Good Old Games has Fallout, the first one, on sale for the low price of *FREE* for the next day and a half. If you haven’t played it, you’re not going to find a better price than that one. This game is one of the highlights of 1997. It’ll blow you away.)
All that to say: I hope you have a Good Friday. (As I said, consider this an open thread.)